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Figured this one would be a bit appropriate to post, by RR.

      From Both Sides Now, The Role of The Aquarist in
Now  a  days  when  you sit and talk about  the  movers  and
shakers  in  the fisheries business you can  bet  the  names
Axelrod  or  Quinn don't come up, nor do the  names  of  any
other  Aquarist. Aquarist you say, why would the name of  an
Aquarist come up in any serious discussion of North American
Native fish ? Why not I say ? Did you know that much of  the
information on species across the world has been acquired by
Aquarist  not Scientist. In their quest to dive  deeper  and
deeper into their obsessive hobby Aquarist have combed every
continent and almost every genus  in search of new specimens
for  their  tanks.  Aquarist discover  species,  name  them,
document  their habits and publish their results.  Go  ahead
and  check out your libraries Aquarium section. You will  be
surprised.  The knowledge base available is very impressive.
Aquarist  do  so  many  tasks that are fundamental  to  good
science  and  good  resource management yet  many  fisheries
personnel   ignore   them.  Aquarists   concentrate   almost
exclusively  in  non game species the greatest  weakness  of
most  fisheries  departments yet  most  "Serious"  fisheries
staff  have  never  even  given a thought  to  the  role  of
Aquarists or Aquarium study in their work.
Inspite  of  what  seems an obvious opportunity  to  partner
there  exists within the fisheries community a bias  against
aquarist. A sort of invisible wall that keeps US  away  from
THEM.  Many  Fisheries  people  consider  Aquarist  amusing,
ignorant  folks  who just don't know the first  thing  about
fisheries  management.  Aquarist  seem  content   to   spend
countless hours (and dollars) to set things up just so , all
the while making no real enviromental impact. However slowly
all  across  the  continent the traditional separations  are
eroding.  All across America , serious Aquarist are involved
in  the  rearing and breeding of Native Fish.  Sometimes  in
secret,  often times in public. Aquarist routinely keep  and
breed  Darters  ,  Shiners and Sunfish. Collecting  valuable
information on rearing and breeding species. More  and  more
Aquarist  have  become  involved on  the  local  level  with
various Stream Teams and other conservation movements.  They
have taken a proactive role in environmental preservation.
How  do  Aquarist do that you may wonder ? How can some  guy
with  a few fish tanks and a basement become environmentally
proactive  ?  How  does he breed a species  that  State  and
federal  programs  have  failed at ? It's  simple,  Aquarist
observe  things  from  a  micro perspective  spending  hours
observing  the  most minute detail of fish behavior.   While
those  in Fisheries tend to look at things at a macro  level
.This  skill  while  useful for resource management,  leaves
them   lacking  when  it  comes  to  domestic  rearing   and
propagation.  A surprising amount of Aquarists are  rearing,
and  breeding  fish  from  all over  the  world  with  great
success.  Surprised  ?  If Aquarist can  discover  and  rear
African  Cichlids of all types why not do the same with  our
Native  species?  There  is  so  much  to  learn  about  the
intricacies of breeding and rearing of a great many  of  our
Native fishes . Aquarist could help fill in the gaps !

Up  until  this  point  the Aquarist has  been  an  outsider
looking in. Many states have placed laws on the books making
collecting  and  keeping  of North  American  Native  Fishes
difficult  .  The  American  Fisheries  Society  and   other
Organizations   like  the  North  American   Native   Fishes
Association (NANFA) should work together with states to make
collecting  laws uniform and logical.  A practical  solution
might  be a simple collectors license (or stamp) that allows
a   creel  limit without size limitations for  example,  the
possessor  could  collect via hook  or  net  6  sunfish  all
species all sizes, 12 shiners or darters, and 6 roughfish.
To the surprise of most people , the great majority of  fish
collectors are like stamp collectors . Collectors will go to
great  lengths and expense to find the one or two things  we
want.  Ignoring the many other things available, a  kind  of
catch and release collector. I have yet to see any collector
do  the  wholesale over collecting we hear about  and  fear.
They  are as rare as the Bass Fisherman who takes every size
and  type of bass any way he can get them be it by  hook  or
I  think  it  is  past  time that the  serious  Aquarist  be
welcomed  to the folds of the serious fisheries  groups.  We
have  a  dire  and  important job to do, we  must  not  only
discover  and  document our fishes and their  behaviors.  We
also  must  deal  with  the  increasing  environmental   and
financial  pressure on our natural resources. The scheme  of
things  would radically change if a small percentage of  the
millions  of  aquarist began spending their time  and  money
locally  with groups and stream teams. Fisheries departments
and  other groups should place the welcome mat out  reaching
out  via aquarium magazines and local aquarium groups .  The
increased public awareness alone would be worth the  effort.
Take  a  moment open the tent a little wider and  let  those
folks in they are waiting.
Robert Rice
2213 Prytania Circle
Navarre Florida  32566